What to Expect When You’re Expecting… To Get Arrested!

2 Feb

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I don’t know how you honored Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy in January, but I got arrested for civil disobedience on Wednesday while protesting the Senate’s refusal to call witnesses in the Impeachment Trial. Obviously I have a LOT to share on the topic, but since this blog is called pithypants, I’ll start with the lighter stuff first.

So here’s a quick primer on what to expect if you decide to take your outrage to the next level this year…

Lesson 1: If you’ve not yet been arrested (I hadn’t!) I highly recommend coming to DC and letting your first experience unfold with the US Capitol Police. They are professionals. While the experience isn’t exactly pleasant (I mean, it’s uncomfortable having your hands cuffed for hours), I didn’t encounter a single officer who seemed to be on a power trip. They were friendly, civil, and – if I’m being honest – entirely deserving of the salaries we pay them. In fact, when I learned that they probably wouldn’t be able to make change when I paid my fine, I suggested that they take the extra $10 and buy a six pack of beer.

Lesson 2: You shouldn’t offer unsolicited money to the police. Turns out, even if you’re being funny, they will get big eyes and respond seriously, “We can’t take that! We don’t do bribes!” Um… oops? Sorry about that. I wasn’t looking for a second charge!

Lesson 3: When you’re arrested in a “mass arrest,” you will be processed as a group. Which means: you’re only as fast as the slowest member of your group. The larger the group, the longer you’ll be in custody, because everyone has to go through all the steps before they start releasing people.

In a nutshell, the process consists of getting:

  • cuffed
  • patted down
  • having all your personal property (except clothes, ID and cash for the fine) removed and placed in a plastic bag
  • photographed
  • loaded in a paddywagon and transported to a processing area (in our case, a drafty warehouse over near the Navy Yard)
  • searched again (more thoroughly but still with your clothes on, thankfully!);
  • your cuffs moved from behind your back to in front of you
  • read your Miranda Rights
  • to sign your arrest certificate (after they run your ID through their database to check for priors)
  • fingerprinted
  • to pay your fine
  • your stuff back
  • released!

In our case, it took about four hours.

Lesson 4: Consider your clothing carefully if you think there’s a chance you might get arrested. I say this because most of my regrets were around aspects of my clothing. I was grateful to have my big winter coat for the hours that we were sitting in the cold warehouse. I was also glad to have worn a sports bra rather than a regular under-wire bra because it made the bra checks (performed by a female officer) easier. (In case you’re wondering, for a bra check, they ask you to lean forward slightly and they grab and shake the band of your bra so that if you have anything there, it will fall out.) Conversely, I kicked myself for wearing skinny jeans. Had I known my stomach would be exposed, I probably would not have worn something that showcased my tubby muffin top. Next time I might wear a dress. 🙂

Lesson 5: Know what you’ll be charged with. In my case, I learned a new vocabulary word: incommoding. Look it up.

Lesson 6: If there’s a chance you’ll get arrested, be sure to carry cash (to pay your fine) and a valid ID in your pocket. If possible, ditch anything else because it just slows the whole process down (see Lesson 3). In our case, our fines were $50, payable in cash, so for the people who didn’t have cash on them, we pooled our money to cover them.

Lesson 7: When possible, team up with an organized group that knows the ropes. I was fortunate enough to have been with a group that was familiar with the process. They let us know what actions might lead to arrest, made it clear what consequences we might face if we were arrested, and provided forms for us to complete before protesting to secure legal representation in the event that we got arrested.

After I was released from custody, I walked out the back door of the station, completely disoriented and unsure how I’d get home. As I was fishing my phone out of my plastic bag of belongings, I heard a small group of people cheering and chanting, “Thank you, we love you!” from a hotel parking lot across the street. I had not expected a welcome committee, but it was incredibly nice to be met by a lawyer who made a copy of my arrest record, asked how I’d been treated, and verified how many people were still awaiting release, while another person brought me food and asked if I needed to use a bathroom. They planned to stay there until the last person was released so that if anyone hit any hiccups or needed help paying the fine, they would be covered.

Lesson 8: Be sure you have an Uber/Lyft app on your phone so you have an easy way to get home. I was one of the few people from the DC area who got arrested. The others were from Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and even California. Which is to say: I’m probably one of the only people who had a remote sense of where I was in the city. And even so, it was after dark and I didn’t know how close a metro was, so I was grateful to grab an Uber.

Lesson 9: Even if you’re tempted, don’t tell your Uber driver, “I just got out of jail!” unless you want him to go silent, drive quickly, and look at you suspiciously in the rearview mirror. On second thought: definitely tell your driver you were arrested. Way better than making small talk for 20 minutes.

Lesson 10: Listen to the stories of the people who took the leap with you. (Not that it’s difficult – without a phone or any other source of entertainment, all you have to pass the time is each other.) You’ll be inspired by the retired Army Colonel who has been in town from New York protesting every day since January 6; by the soft-spoken college student who came out from Wisconsin because she doesn’t see the point of a college degree if our country continues on the path it’s on; by the young nurse from California who flew in that morning just to protest, knowing she might miss her return flight back because she got arrested; by the Marine running for US Congress, whose uncle was the regional president of the NAACP in Mississippi; or by the man who now wears a body camera to protests after losing multiple teeth in the violence at Charlottesville in 2017. These people made me proud to be an American.

And finally, if you want to see what we did that led to arrest, here’s a link to a pretty thorough video from that day.

 

 

I never said I was a plumber.

11 Jan

My toilet has a weird handle: you lift it to flush, and it drops back down and points toward the floor between flushes. It’s been this way since I moved in, and it’s never struck me as particularly odd, but apparently it is.

I know this because pretty much every guest who uses my toilet somehow manages to leave the handle in the lifted position. Honestly, I’m not even sure how they do that or how much time it takes to get it to stay upright, but without fail, whenever someone disappears to the restroom, minutes after they return to the living room, I’ll hear the tell-tale sign of the toilet endlessly refilling. I’ll go drop the handle back into place, then explain the oddities of my plumbing to my visitor.

I share this because we had people over for brunch on New Year’s Day. Many of them hadn’t been to my place before, so rather than brace myself for “handle duty,” I simply took a little Post-It note on it so people would know what to do.

It worked like a charm and a dozen people used my bathroom without leaving it in the upright position. It worked so well, in fact, that I decided to just leave the note there, since on at least one occasion I returned from vacation to find the toilet running because the cat sitter didn’t know the flusher trick.

Alan, apparently, had other ideas. As I was working on my laptop the other night, he came into the living room and stood next to me with a shit-eating grin on his face. He’d cleverly moved the Post-It note to the button on his pants.

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And he accusing me of the being the 12 year old in this relationship? I don’t think so.

 

Four reasons I dislike Finter*

15 Dec

I like fall. And I like winter. I do NOT like the unnamed season between the two, which is where we are right now. I’m choosing to call it Finter. Here are my chief complaints:

  1. It feels like it’s always cold and rainy. Not cold enough for snow, but somehow cold enough to ensure your feet turn into ice cubes that require a long soak in the tub to thaw.
  2. The leaves that fell and haven’t been picked up by the city are disintegrating into massive piles of pulp. In addition to being ugly, they’re super slippery – I’ve almost wiped out WEARING SNEAKERS a half dozen times in the last week. And regardless of how well you wipe your feet, you WILL track this leaf confetti into your home.
  3. The other issue with the leaves: they’re blocking storm drains, so whenever it rains (see bullet #1: always), water backs up until it’s about 3-4 feet away from the curb, ensuring that whenever you leave the sidewalk, you WILL step into at least an inch of standing water.
  4. It’s dark out at 4pm. Tonight I was sitting here reading my Kindle in the dark and I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll brush my teeth and call it a night…” then I looked at the clock and realized it was only 5pm. It felt like midnight.

SIDE NOTE: I just went to find an image for this post and I googled “pile of leaves.” This was on the first page of image results, and honestly, Google, I think you’re kind of an asshole:

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Please, help me: what is redeeming about this non-season? Anything?

It’s like origami with clothes.

3 Dec

Look, I have no idea how to create and insert a poll on here, but if I did, it would ask the following:

  • When you encounter an inside-out shirt, do you turn it right-side out before donning it, or do you use the act of putting it on to turn it right-side out?
  • Follow-up: how would you categorize your gender identity?

I ask because I’m working on a theory, based on Alan’s look of confusion when I started to put on an inside-out shirt last week and reversed it during the act of pulling it over my head.

“Wait!” he cried. “Did you just put that shirt on inside-out?!”

I looked down at it. “No. It’s right-side out now.”

He shook his head, looking baffled. I shrugged and moved on.

But in the days since,  I’ve hatched a theory, which is this: Because most women learn to put a bra on upside down and backwards, we have hyper-developed spatial logic skills, making it easy to take a reversed piece of clothing and use the act of putting it on to set it correct.

What do you think? Am I onto something here, or was Alan just sleepy? Or am I stretching too much in my celebration of #girlpower?

Now seriously, please respond to my poll.

Also: someone actually made a how-to video, though I think most ladies will agree with me that his skill-level is pretty basic. Anyone worth her salt knows that if you lead with your arms, the effect is more magical and the head-hole follows automatically. No awkward fumbling to put the arms on later like he does. Check it out:

Something I didn’t think to be thankful for – until today.

29 Nov

There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Bob Dylan that goes something like, “Be grateful for what you don’t have that you don’t want.” I’ve always appreciated that twist on gratitude because when you think about it, we dodge a LOT of bullets in life.

This morning I was reminded of that quote shortly after Alan and I set out for a post-Thanksgiving walk. As we stepped out onto the street, the air smelled delicious, like someone was grilling a pile of hamburgers over an open flame, which is a bit odd for 10am on a Friday. I speculated that it was probably the bar down the alley behind my place, which often smokes brisket on its back patio on game days. Alan, unwilling to take my word for it (and perpetually curious), decided to investigate.

So I stood on the sidewalk, patiently waiting while he walked down the alley. I saw him approach the pub’s patio and pull himself up to the tall wooden fence, trying to look over. And then I saw him slowly moonwalk away from the fence, dragging his left foot as if he’d survived polio, until he got to a pile of leaves. Then he started wiping and stamping both feet. Clearly he’d stepped in something.

As he approached me with a grimace, I asked, “Did you step in dog poop?”

He shook his head, looking shell-shocked. “More like human poop.” He paused. “That was clearly a homeless person’s bathroom. Don’t ask me how I know.”

I nodded, shoved my hands down in my pockets, and silently gave thanks for NOT being ruled by my curiosity for once and NOT having to contemplate burning my sneakers on Black Friday. And with that, we walked away, one foot dragging with every step.

#gratitude